Raphael Musanyera

This conversation is closed.

Racism is "irrational," but it still exists! i'm confused... will the world ever be able to rid itself from the scourge of racism?

Can't we all get along? is it because some people are racist simply to gain advantage? Or is it plain prejudice? Or a cultural thing...? What in your opinion are the roots of racism?

  • thumb
    Jun 3 2012: The term racism is very limiting. That suggests color. I would state the problem is prejudice. A preconcieved judgement toward religion, ethnicity, nationality, sexual preference, social status, etc... fill in the many blanks left. Most of these issues are within their own gouping. Example: If you are not a member of our faith your going to hell. Being black is the mark of Cain. All of the problems are caused by Wall Street and the 1%. Being Gay is against the word of God. I am glad I was born Green being Orange would really suck.

    All of the world has some sort of Caste system we just call it by another name.

    Walk into a prison and you will find that they divide by race even though that is discouraged by administrators and law. There is always a common bond somewhere that will cause seperation and that encourages a prejudice.

    When you change the terms from racism to prejudice it aligns things in a diffrerent light. Remember that prejudice is a two way street. I have seen it internal with groups and external from groups.

    All the best. Bob
  • thumb
    May 24 2012: You were expecting everything in the human sphere to be rational? Sorry Mr. Musanyera, it is not so!
    Racism is generalization in action. For example: someone says, "All blacks are good athletes." That is not true and it is irrational, but children grow up hearing it.
    Also, misinformation is key to racism. For example: most of the players on the court for any given NBA game are black. That is taken as scientific proof of what is actually an irrational generalization.
    The root of racism is careless, unclear thinking.
    • thumb
      May 29 2012: umm... i see your point. (with my hands in the air) i'm thoroughly confused! despite our advances in knowledge and technology we continue to hold onto these ideas?? any remedies you think? or are we in this for the long haul?
      • thumb
        May 30 2012: Teaching young people, and any adults who will listen, to think clearly and carefully for themselves would help destabilize the root of racism (careless, unclear thinking).
  • thumb
    Jun 1 2012: A lot of our instincts or attributes that we evolved with helped our survival but have negative side effects.
    From an evolutionary perspective there is probably a good reason to be weary of the different or other tribes.
    We also have evolved to make snap intuitive assessments of people and situations.
    Big guy I don't know with a stick wearing a hoodie - I go instinctually on alert.

    We need to overrule these intuitive assumptions and instinctual tribalism with our reason.
    We need to overcome this in our laws and the behaviour we accept.
    Men want to have sex with women but we don't accept them giving in to their base instincts.
    But don't forget racism and tribalism are fairly universal so even we personally manage these well, we need to be ready to be on the receiving end from others.

    It is interesting if you hang around with people from other cultures or races you get to like them or dislike them based on the individual not the prejudice. Also we don't have to like everything about a race or a culture. Some cultures are more sexist or homophobic or intolerant than others. But judge the individual by their actions not by the broader society they come from.
  • thumb
    Jun 1 2012: I think that the roots of racism lie within the human psyche itself. Think about it...even if you get rid of racism between black and white people, then there is still racism between American-born blacks and African-born blacks. If we get rid of that then there is racism between light colored blacks and dark-colored blacks. If we get rid of that then there is racism depending on what country in Africa you are from. And even if we get rid of that, then there is racism between what tribe you are from in that country.

    However, I think that the key to defeating racism also lies within the human psyche. We have to recognize it and then CHOOSE to act differently. To better understand what I mean, check out this article that I wrote: http://buchis-book.blogspot.com/2012/05/i-am-not-naive-individual-glorifying.html
  • thumb
    May 26 2012: People are irrational. that is why irrationality exists. Nature, science, and all other living creatures are rational except humans. It is the boon of free will, we may choose to act irrationally.

    Racism still exists because it is a great way to divide. United we (Humanity, nationally, and culturally) are strong but if we are divided it makes us much easier to control and regulate.

    IF you look through the pages of history you will find that any man/woman who reaches a plain of consciousness which spreads true equality to the masses (Jesus, Gandhi, Lennon, Martin Luther King Jr., Rene Descartes etc. for example) is killed. These "saints" never die a natural death, why?
    • thumb
      May 29 2012: Great point Adam! from how you have reasoned, i suspect (is it correct to say) that racism continues as the human intention to dominate others.
      • thumb
        May 30 2012: I believe you have hit on one underlying factor Raphael..."racism continues as the human intention to dominate others". Racism is fear based.

        What happens when/if an individual or group of people do NOT dominate others? What is the underlying fear? Others will dominate them.

        If we humans are secure in ourselves, we may see the interconnectedness of the whole. In which case, no one would feel a need to dominate the other. What a wonderful world it would be!
        • thumb
          May 31 2012: "Fear based..." thats an interesting point! i guess a lack of security is also another point.
      • thumb
        May 30 2012: Exactly.
      • thumb
        May 31 2012: Hi Raphael,
        Is lack of security another point? Or is it one and the same point? If we lack security in ourselves, it is more likely that we will fear others....yes?

        We are all like mirrors to each other reflecting information back and forth. If we are secure, we reflect security, which may give others the ability to be secure as well. If we project insecurity, it projects fear in ourselves AND others...make any sense?

        In my perception, those who cannot accept and respect differences in others, or think they are better than others, are simply projecting their own insecurity. If people discovered that about themselves, I believe there would be no more racism. When/if people discover that we are more the same than different, we may all be more secure in ourselves, with others, and in the life experience:>)
  • May 25 2012: I think that to a large extent, racism and culture is heavily confused.

    What I mean is that a statistically significant proportion of people from a certain grouping whether it's nationality, race, gender or whet ever else may have certain culturally taught behavioral traits.

    As an individual it is in your best interest not to ignore those trends.

    There certainly are instances of racism which exist in the world and I have heard some pretty damning statistics about the American justice system's treatment of African Americans but I also think that it's important to recognise the difference between a cultural observation and a racial prejudice.
    • thumb
      May 31 2012: Wow. So in essence as i ponder on what you've just said, a cultural "revolution/evolution" is necessary?
      • May 31 2012: If people are racially over-sensitive as I suggest then they probably are so for good reason.

        Stigmatising racism to the point where people are condemned even for making a cultural observation is unfortunate in the sense that innocent people are targeted and in the sense that positive social measures may never be put in place but it's also positive in the sense that it supresses racism itself that much more effectively.

        Perhaps society is where it needs to be but as an individual, for my own sake, I prefer to deal with reality and truth as much as I can.
    • thumb
      May 31 2012: Luke,
      You say..."... it's important to recognise the difference between a cultural observation and a racial prejudice". Good point!

      My observation is that an "observation" does not harm people. "Racial predudice" often does.
      "Behavioral traits" that harm people are not usefull.

      Your comment sounds to me, like you are justifying racism.
      • May 31 2012: That isn't my intention.

        Take education/intelligence for example. If someone says that they believe Africans Americans are less intelligent than other races, their choice to use the word intelligence indicates that they are probably being racist.

        If someone said that they have noticed that African Americans in their area aren't as well educated as other races, they probably mean that they do not have the same opportunities to do well at school perhaps for socio-economical or domestic reasons. They aren't suggesting a causal link between race and education level, they are suggesting a correlative link. This kind of observation is useful and helpful because it allows society to recognise problems and help groups of people when it's needed.

        The first is racism and the second is a cultural observation and in this case you can tell them apart by the language used but I don't think it's always as easy to tell the difference and I don't think people are always as conscious of the wording they use as perhaps they should be. Someone who uses the word intelligence might be making a cultural observation but expressing themselves in an unfortunate way. Someone who uses the word education might be making a racial observation but trying to sound otherwise.

        It boils down to what the person believes. If the person believes that the group behaves in a certain way because they are genetically predisposed then they are being racist. If the person believes that the group behaves in a certain way because they have been taught to culturally then they are not being racist.

        I do believe people in society have become so racially sensitive that sometimes they cannot even tell the difference between the two anymore.
        • thumb
          May 31 2012: Luke,
          That's why it's important to be aware of the words we use and the message we want to project.

          If we want to project the idea that some people do not have the same opportunities...that's what we say!

          Glad to hear you are not trying to justify racism. Still sounds like you are though.

          People can learn to say what they mean, and mean what they say without prejudice.
      • May 31 2012: I agree with you that it's very important to be aware of the words we use but not everyone is and even if we are, we are still going to make mistakes sometimes.

        If you are listening to what somone has to say, I think it's also important to be open minded about it and try not to jump to negative conclusions. If someone tells me that they believe Chinese people are impatient or rude, it would be easy for me to assume that they are being hateful and racist and I'd probably be right in an example like that but even then I would try to give them the benefit of doubt and suggest that if sometimes they do behave that way, it's probably because they have a different culture or upbringing and what may seem impatient or rude to that person is normal to them and see where the conversation goes from there but...

        As I said with Raphael, perhaps it is as sensetive an issue for good reason and perhaps it is best for it to remain this way for the sake of discouraging racism in general.
        • thumb
          May 31 2012: I agree Luke,
          Listening, being open minded and not jumping to conclusions is important.

          I don't understand why you need to use particular ethnic groups in your examples, as you did in your previous comment ("African Americans"), and in the comment above ("Chinese people").

          There are people of all ethnic backgrounds, including my own, who are not well educated, impatient and rude.

          You say you would "suggest that if sometimes they do behave that way, it's probably because they have a different culture or upbringing and what may seem impatient or rude to that person is normal to them....."

          I might say..."there are people of all ethnic backgrounds that are not well educated, impatient and rude".

          In my perception, we are all more the same than different, and it is the differences that are the gifts we may give to each other, IF, as you say, we are listening with an open mind and heart:>)

          Remaining the way it is, "sensetive" in your perception, has NOT discouraged racism. We cannot do what we have always done, and expect different results.
      • May 31 2012: I find that using specific examples often helps people consider a subject more deeply. That may not be the case for everyone and maybe my examples in this case have been over-stated but I really just use them as a conversational tool.

        This is an unfortunate subject because any example I present can be misinterpreted as a presentation of my own prejudiced belief. I am willing to accept that risk if the potential benefit is a more thoughtful and indepth discussion.

        I agree with you that it's actually more likely that someones rude or impatient behaviour is an expression of their individuality rather than an expression of even their culture or upbringing.

        There are some massive double standards with racism which exist in society right now and there are some pretty irrational things happening. Below is a link to an example from some number of years ago.


        As much as there is a problem of racism to be combatted there is also a problem with the perception of what racism even is.
        • thumb
          May 31 2012: Yes, I agree Luke, that any example you present, in the way you are presenting them, can indeed be a presentation of your own prejudiced beliefs. That is what I was percieving.

          Using specific examples, as you have, of certain ethnic groups who you believe to be less intelligent, impatient or rude, serves no useful purpose other than to reinforce prejudice. It continues to seperate people, rather than unite people, and this DOES NOT help to consider a subject more deeply. It simply serves to seperate people.

          You say you use them as a "conversational tool". What do you hope to gain from the conversastions in which you use these examples? To me, these examples are dismissive and condescending to the entire group you use as examples. How much "depth" can you achieve with dismissive, untrue comments?

          I am aware of many very irrational things happening in our world Luke, so let's turn that around by discontinuing labeling and catagorizing people according to ethnic background:>)

          I agree with you...there is a challenge really knowing or understanding racism.
      • May 31 2012: Let me be absolutely clear. I do not believe African Americans are less intelligent and I do not believe that chinese are impatient or rude.

        It is truely unfortunate that examples of stereotypical racist opinions cannot be given in a discussion without being labeled as a racist.

        It is not my fault that you cannot distinguish between an example and a declaration of belief.

        If I gave a hypothetical scenario of a rapist or a murderer, would you assume I was one of those as well?

        If there was ever any need for an example of irrational over-sensitivity, you have just provided it.
        • thumb
          May 31 2012: I am very clear Luke....are you?

          If you do not believe what you wrote, why did you write it?

          You write above..."It is truely unfortunate that examples of stereotypical racist opinions cannot be given in a discussion without being labeled as a racist.

          First of all, I did not label you anything...you labeled yourself.
          Secondly, what might you expect when you use "stereotypical racist opinions"???
          Those are your words Luke...not mine!

          Thank you for the feedback Luke. I don't believe we can EVER be "over-sensitive" about anything. It is time in our world to be sensitive, and use words that reflect that sensitivity.
      • May 31 2012: There is a very clear and distinct difference between saying;

        "IF someone says x then y"


        "I believe x is true"

        My comments were an expression of the former, not the latter. There was no declaration of belief to even be misinterpreted. I cannot comprehend how we have even come to this point and I do not believe that there is anything to be gained from further discussion here.
        • thumb
          May 31 2012: I agree Luke...no further discussion if that is what you choose.

          I also wholeheartedly agree again with your statement above...
          "As much as there is a problem of racism to be combatted there is also a problem with the perception of what racism even is". Well said Luke.
      • May 31 2012: Just to clarify for anyone reading this, Colleen has edited her posts. If any of my responses seem nonsequacious, that would be why.
        • thumb
          May 31 2012: Dear Luke,
          You KNOW I have NOT edited one thing during our discussion, nor after you ended it.

          Are you editing yours? Perhaps you are reconsidering some of your comments?
          That might be a good thing:>)
      • May 31 2012: Hmm I feel like an ass now...

        I confused one of your posts for another, I was wrong, you did not edit your posts and I am sorry I made the accusation.
        • thumb
          May 31 2012: Thank you, I appreciate you for writing that.
  • thumb
    May 24 2012: Racism is simply intolerance. More fatal than the intolerance of suicide bombers. Like mambas breeding in a field of green, it lurks in human hearts like terror. Racism has hatred,pride and selfishness at its core. It is an impediment to the spirit of Ubuntu that is preached by one of our greats, Dr Nelson Mandela.
    Racism, like all other sins, will remain in the world as it is now. We tolerate some things because they are convinient; the power of choice could become a curse if we make the wrong choices. But we usually hope that once for our sake the laws of God will change and we will escape the fruits of our hatred.
    There will be racism as long as humans have the freedom to choose good or bad. Those who choose to be selfish,arrogant and intolerant will have a reason to support their view. Love is not for the lazy.
    Racism is irrational; and how is that for humanity and science that prides itself in being rational.
  • thumb
    May 24 2012: It is very interesting that you've brought rationality into the issue. Science - the path of rational thought - tells us that all human's (black/ asian / oriantal and white) brains develop in the same way - so a racist point of view has been proven to be wrong - however, even in the most secular countries/cities racism still exists - so i guess rasism has little to do with rational beIief.

    I'm reading a wonderful e-book called "India's Unending Journey" by Mark Tully, the BBCs former foreign correspondent in India. He has a lot of interesting views you may find interesting.
    • thumb
      May 24 2012: Men and women don't have the same brains. This, however, does not permit sexism.
      That is because morals are not derived from science.